The intrauterine insemination (IUI) is an assisted reproduction method that involves directly placing the sperm into the uterus in order to increase pregnancy chances. The IUI can be performed during a natural cycle (i.e. without taking any medication) or after ovarian stimulation.
The sperm that is inserted into the uterus has been carefully selected and processed. The procedure is simple and painless, does not require anaesthesia and is similar as having a Papanicolaou test. The IUI is less invasive than IVF and has lower cost.
The IUI is suitable at the following circumstances:
- If there is mild male factor subfertility. It is however ineffective in severe cases i.e. azoospermia
- Women who have ovulation induction
- If there are adhesions or scarring of the cervix that do not allow the transfer of the sperm inside the uterus
- If donor sperm is used
- Both fallopian tubes are patent
- The number and quality of oocytes is satisfactory
Ideally, the woman should be younger than 35.
How effective is IUI?
The pregnancy rate is 10-15% per IUI cycle, depending of course on the individual case.
- If IUI is performed after ovarian stimulation, there is increased chance of multiple pregnancy
- For women older than 35, and especially if they have low ovarian reserve, IVF is preferable to IUI as it has higher success rates
Is there are a limit at the number of IUI attempts?
IUI in carefully selected cases could lead to pregnancy. However, if it is not successful after 3-4 cycles, other methods of assisted conception should be considered, such as IVF.